Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit another 20,000 police officers increases the risk of admitting officers with misogynistic, racist or homophobic behaviour, all amid concerns that there is a discriminatory culture in police forces in England and Wales.
Currently, the police in England and Wales are dealing with a number of problems, including the aftermath of the murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer, in an attempt to rebuild public confidence.
As published by The Guardian, an internal police report highlighted warnings that the sheer scale and speed of the 20,000-strong recruitment campaign inevitably carries risks, adding that there is a real danger that people unfit for the police force could slip through all the filters and be recruited.
In parallel, the paper considers that the system fails when, on occasion, organised crime groups attempt to infiltrate the police, which can have catastrophic consequences. When unsuitable applicants lie on application forms, hide their social media activity or downplay their criminal connections, the verification quality must consistently be strong.
If, during the probation period, an agent exhibits behaviour such as homophobia, racism, misogyny or dishonesty, it must be taken very seriously. If you just say well, they’ll be a good cop, we’ll polish them up, you’re protecting a problem that could last 30 years.
The report also exposes other issues, such as:
• Fraud has increased exponentially and continues to be mistakenly treated as a low priority by many police forces.
• The local accountability model has severed some relationships between police and politicians, and has left some police chiefs lacking confidence in their operational independence.
• The fragile architecture of having 43 police forces, devised in 1962 and implemented in 1974, is far from being fit for purpose in 2022.
• Cybercrime is now by far the most prevalent type of crime. Considering that our children were unsafe if they were on the street, they are now more unsafe in their own rooms.
• Public expectations to fight crime cannot be met without sufficient funding, and the public, through politicians, must decide how much threat, harm and risk they are willing to tolerate.
Significant shortcomings in the police force persist and must be addressed. Crime is now often complex and much more sophisticated, and investigations can take much longer. If the police continue to use 20th century methods to try to cope with 21st century technology, they will continue to fall further and further behind.
Finally, the paper considers that the seriousness of the problems that the police service is now faced with should not be underestimated, but that the public should be reassured by the firm, pragmatic and professional approach of police officers and personnel.